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US Plans Lunar Motel 355

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the vacation-destinations dept.
OffTheLip writes "The US is planning to build a permanent lunar base which will support future visits to Mars. The living conditions on the moon presents a variety of challenges from medical to construction. Contingency planning would be critical but some feel the challenges presented on the moon will be less than Mars. The moon is closer to Earth, the atmosphere is less harsh and, unlike Mars, water does not exist. Is this the start of the next space race?"
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US Plans Lunar Motel

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  • by metaomni (667105) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:26PM (#14998619)
    The article makes a very good case for just the opposite -- the moon seems like it will be a much harsher locale for future astronauts, despite its closer location.
    • I was also thinking. How come having water on a planet makes things more difficult. I know life on earth (70% water surface) is tough ;), but based on that last sentence, I'd say mars is the better place to be.
    • by cmowire (254489) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:57PM (#14998769) Homepage
      Well, it depends on your point of view.

      If you suffer from a power/oxygen/water/etc. system failure, all you need is a few weeks supplies in the shelter on the moon. Wheras, you need to ensure that at all points in time, you've got 2 years worth of shelter supplies on Mars.

      Also, the lowered gravity and nearly-nonexistent atmosphere means that a moonsuit from the 60s still works out well enough.

      Also, given that you have only 3 days outside of the earth's magnetosphere to get there, you'll accumulate a lot less radiation on the way there than you would going to Mars.

      Of course, that also would require piling lunar soil and rocks on top of whatever the lunar base ends up being made out of to provide sufficent mass.

      But, still... Because of all of these things, it's easier to get a toehold sooner on the Moon.

      The problem is that NASA has yet to grasp the idea of a fully independent spacecraft. It works out reasonably well to have astronauts swap out complete assemblies in LEO, where you can send up and down the stuff, if you are talking about going to Mars or Io or Titan or even near-earth-asteroids, you are going to be too far to pull stunts like that. We barely know how to weld and solder in space and nobody's ever tried to make a set of machine shop tools for space like lathes and mills. The moon would be a great place to research such things, but that also depends on NASA breaking with tradition and not blowing a good chance yet again.
      • The problem is that NASA has yet to grasp the idea of a fully independent spacecraft. It works out reasonably well to have astronauts swap out complete assemblies in LEO, where you can send up and down the stuff, if you are talking about going to Mars or Io or Titan or even near-earth-asteroids, you are going to be too far to pull stunts like that.

        I find your ideas intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Er, no, seriously, you make a good point.

        We barely know how to weld and solder in space and

        • I imagine it scarcely differs from welding on Earth; no air is required*

          Welding torches require oxygen in order to burn. In a ~0g environment you face a few unique problems.

          Liquids (like really hot liquid metal) fly away, and can hit astronauts/equipment, and not cool on the spot of the weld (you seemed to realize this one on your own.)

          Any sort of torch, assuming it provides its own oxygen, would either contaminate the air in the spacecraft, or if use outside, have the potential to apply thrust and m

          • by cmowire (254489) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:50PM (#14999015) Homepage
            Take a welding class sometime. There is much much much more to welding than the standard oxy-acetelyne torch.

            Oxygen is not required. There are certain high-strength welding processes that even require a vacuum to work.

            They already need to deal with the problem of oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen getting into the welds, which is why stick welders have a thick coating of flux on the rods and MIG and TIG welders cover the weldment with a variety of inert or mostly-inert gasses.

            There are other problems, of course. :)
            • To add to your response, not only is oxygen not required, it is downright bad for welding. If oxygen dissolves in the molten material, it causes voids and really bad corrosion (particularly for iron alloys). When using an oxy-acetylene torch, ideally oxygen doesn't touch the weld. Your flame should be as close to stoichiometric as possible, so that only CO2 and H20 vapor contact it.

              While 0 G welding would present some difficulties (stuff flying out, and more importantly, all the dust that is typically ge
            • When I used to weld for a living (MIG), the gas used was 90%+ nitrogen and a few % argon, and was basically for cooling iirc. The inertness of the cooling gas is so you can control the weld temperature more exactly (oxygen would increase the heat of the weld, while hydrogen would just burn). It's surprisingly easy to blow holes in steel when it's only a couple of millimetres thick.

              All the tips for MIG welders are made of copper, and so is the spool wire, so if you run them without a cooling gas they melt to

          • Any sort of torch, assuming it provides its own oxygen, would...if use outside, have the potential to apply thrust and move the craft off course.

            Cooling would still be a problem, but thrust is a non-issue for arc welders.

        • by cmowire (254489) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @04:30PM (#14999168) Homepage
          Ah, but convection doesn't work, so you increase the possibility of any fluxes not properly floating to the top. You also have to wory about the flux evaporating and causing the solder to be propelled away from the workpiece. Also, some soldering and welding processes are designed to work inside the atmosphere, others are designed to work outside of the atmosphere.

          But, no, nothing on the ISS is being welded in space. It is sent up in large chunks and is bolted together, often times with motorized screws so that the astronauts just have to manuver the pieces towards each other and then command the berthing mechanism to grip. They have been doing some limited soldering experiments in the ISS, but never as repair work, just as tests for eventually doing repair work.

          The biggest problem is that a spacewalk takes too much effort to set up. You have to plan it out. You have to pre-breathe oxygen. You have to replace all of the relevant consumables. The people doing them are scientists, not bridge workers.

          You can only get so far with merely bolting stuff together. Eventually, you need to start doing fabrication work. Sure, it's easier to send up 1 ton of easy-to-fab raw materials, but it's even easier to grab a 100 ton iron asteroid and not bother calling back to Earth at all. :) Remember that some of the iron asteroids are basicly steel with sufficent levels of purity that you could slice 'em up with a cutter and use them as building materials with nay but a quick metalurgical assay.

          Some things will be much much easier in space. Ovens for example. A nice parabolic reflector to focus the sun's heat on a lump of metal can be made out of aluminised mylar and (titanium) chickenwire. You can use a refractory blowpipe to blow a bubble out of the lump once it's melted. Taking this to a logical extension, I could see large structures being manufactured using something akin to a glassblower's lathe.

          But the problem is, on both the how-do-we-repair-things-and-build-new-things-in-sp ace front and the how-much-gravity-do-we-need-to-not-die-young-in-sp ace front, we've done... ehrm... almost nothing since the 60s.
      • Of course, that also would require piling lunar soil and rocks on top of whatever the lunar base ends up being made out of to provide sufficent mass.

        There's a fairly simple solution to that: dig a hole, build the station in it and pile the removed rubble on top. You not only get protection from radiation, you also get insulation. Also, you don't have to worry about packing the coverage down to keep it from slipping and exposing the station.

    • by gerf (532474) <edtgerf@gmail.com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:07PM (#14998831) Journal

      The moon has problems with being used as a base, this is true. But, you have to look at all the pros and cons.


      The moon is close. Astronauts, vehicles, resupplies, or emergency equipment can reach the moon in a much shorter time span than Mars. Heck, even communications reach the moon in a couple seconds. Also, gravity is lower on the Moon, so launches from the Moon won't take all that much effort.


      Mars possibly has more water resources to utilize. The thin atmosphere doesn't help much overall, other than blocking a few micrometeorites from causing damage. There is also dust on Mars, but probably not as harsh as that on the Moon, as it's been exposed to wind erosion for a long time now, and is assumed to be rounded in shape. Mars days also are a benefit, as opposed to the Moon, which rotates only as it orbits the Earth.


      My opinion, though it matters not? I say we need to dig on the Moon. Expensive though it may be, going underground protects you from radiation meteors, and solar flare material.

      • All this is really an argument for a base at L4 or L5, if you ask me:

        Pro:
        Just as close as the moon
        Smaller gravity well from the moon, though still gravitationally stable
        No dust
        No issues with rotation blocking sunlight for solar cells

        Con:
        No resources at all, have to ship in everything.

        I think whoever starts building at L4/L5 first will have a huge long-term advantage over any of the other space-faring groups. Lack of supplies is, I t
      • by MikeFM (12491)
        I've always thought that tunneling is the obvious way to build a moon base. It's a lot of dense rock so we could send up a mining robot to dig through the rock and collect the scrap for use in producing glass and possibly collecting useful resources from. Maybe use a laser to seal any places where the rock isn't airtight. If it's an airtight tunnel then just slap on a an airlock and all that and you have a survivable place to start building a city.

        It'd seem something that would be within reasonably ability
    • On the moon, The X-4000 Launch Aparatus [uncoveror.com] might actually work as a launch vehicle.
    • "the moon seems like it will be a much harsher locale for future astronauts, despite its closer location."

      The destination may be harsher, but factor in the 1+ year a trip to Mars takes and all that lovely hard radiation you'd be exposed to, and the moon doesn't look so bad.

      Besides, if something goes wrong, the moon is only about a week away.
  • by Potor (658520) <farker1@gmail. c o m> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:28PM (#14998627) Journal
    my my my ... poor grammar. "unlike mars, water does not exist"? what the hell kind of statement is that? does that mean mars exists, but water does not?
    • does that mean mars exists, but water does not?

      Yes, but only if you BELIEVE.
    • by iamlucky13 (795185) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:55PM (#14998756)
      Fortunately, the article isn't quite so silly, but I'm hard pressed to find a reason why this article should take up space on the front page. It's not news. It's a very vague and somewhat scattered compilation of miscellaneous details that have been discussed over the past couple of years, with a sprinkling cheesy analogies and meaningless opinions on top. This fits better in the category of "Tidbits for people who don't care. Stuff the BBC wrote about last year"
  • Atmosphere? (Score:5, Funny)

    by colonslashslash (762464) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:31PM (#14998637) Homepage
    The moon is closer to Earth, the atmosphere is less harsh

    The moon has atmosphere now?

    What a truely magnificent age we live in.

    • Re:Atmosphere? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tx (96709) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:36PM (#14998664) Journal
      Well, to be fair, the moon does have an atmosphere [ucar.edu], just about, though not much of one, to be sure.
    • Re:Atmosphere? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Decaff (42676)
      The moon has atmosphere now?

      Actually it does; a very, very thin one.... which, I guess, is how it is in some bizzare way, less harsh.
    • Hey, I was more amused by the following statement:

      The moon is closer to Earth

      Closer then Mars? Who woulda thought!?
    • Re:Atmosphere? (Score:4, Informative)

      by x_codingmonkey_x (839141) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:34PM (#14998957)
      Actually the Moon does have an atmosphere. The atmospheric pressure is 3 × 10^-13 kPa so essentially a very small one. It consists of Helium 25%, Neon 25%, Hydrogen 23%, and Argon 20%. More info on the Moon here [wikipedia.org]
    • Apparently a hard vacuum with the odd random molecule bouncing around in it is less harsh than carbon dioxide now. Who knew?

      • Re:Atmosphere? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MythoBeast (54294) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @05:17PM (#14999316) Homepage Journal
        If you think about it, it's common sense. What's worse, living alone, or living with someone who steals all your stuff?

        An atmosphere on Earth provides us with many benefits. First, it gives us oxygen to breathe (duh). Second it provides us with ambient pressure so our liquids don't boil. Third, it holds water in solution so we don't dry out. Fourth, it protects us from radiation from space. Fifth, it maintains a livable temperature so we don't boil or freeze. This doesn't include a host of useful and non-immediate applications, like carrying voice communication or supporting airplanes, or providing an environment for us to grow food.

        The atmosphere of Mars does none of these things (except mild but inadequate radiation protection) so it's little better than a true vaccum. What it does do is leech heat out of anything it touches. It also carries microfine dust which will make it hell to keep anything mechanical working. So, yes, the "atmosphere" of the Moon (or ultrahigh vaccum, or whatever) is, in fact, less harsh than the one on Mars.
        • Re:Atmosphere? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ceoyoyo (59147) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @07:49PM (#14999810)
          Maybe. The atmosphere of Mars also provides a not-insignificant amount of pressure, making it easier to build and less of a catastrophe if you get a leak. Also less of a catastrophe if you happen to puncture your suit. It also provides gasses to use in a greenhouse. The atmosphere might leech heat from things that are uninsulated, but it also regulates heat so you don't have the same extent of baking and freezing that the moon has.

  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:32PM (#14998643)
    NASA is calling for help from the public in designing and building a lunar base entirely out of popsicle sticks and paper clips.
  • Space Race (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarthChris (960471) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:35PM (#14998661)
    "...Is this the start of the next space race?"

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could all work together instead of wasting billions on competing?
    Of course, that's not gonna happen any time soon.

    • Re:Space Race (Score:2, Informative)

      by scarlac (768893)
      Actually, competition is often better than working together. That of course depends on who we are targeting. Competition is a natural thing in animals and humans that pushes us to perform the best, to win the "battle" (survival of the fittest).
      However - most scientific research is done in collaboration between countries, but the most valuable information is often kept secret, so not to let others jump in and steal credit. I would however agree with you that competition can trigger a waste of money, but it d
      • I agree with both you and the parent comment. Competition is healthy, but working together could save a bundle. How about agreeing on a few standards, such as the size and shape of airlocks, so that different countries' vessels could dock with each other? That would allow easier cooperation, while preserving the competitive environment. It would also allow private companies like SpaceX to interoperate with everyone else in the game.

        Maybe somebody at NASA will write an RFC...

        --jrd

    • Re:Space Race (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:01PM (#14998792) Homepage
      Wouldn't it be nice if we could all work together instead of wasting billions on competing?

      Didn't we try that with the International Space Station? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that "all working together" only really worked until such time as the question of who was going to pay for all of this working together came up, at which point the Russians wound up sticking America with the bill for most of the Russian contribution, then started renting stays on the ISS to wealthy millionaires.

      Now, the ESA and Japan and whatnot seem to be a lot more responsible about their portions of the project-- hell, maybe more responsible than NASA even-- but maybe we can say there's some downsides to collaboration when we're talking about multi-year public projects that cost many billions of dollars, downsides that don't exist when we're talking about I dunno world diplomacy. The heads of governments and even corporations change from time to time, and when (as with the ISS or a lunar base) the benefits of the project are indirect, every time this happens there is a risk of the new leadership going "wait... why are we paying for this again?". The more countries or entities you have involved, the more chances you wind up with for this risk to come to pass...
      • Re:Space Race (Score:3, Informative)

        by barawn (25691)
        at which point the Russians wound up sticking America with the bill for most of the Russian contribution

        Do keep in mind that the US was supposed to ferry crew back and forth - when the Shuttle was grounded after Columbia, we started using the Soyuz capsules. Russia then started to say "uh, hey, we need to get paid for this sort of stuff..." and Congress starting hedging about whether they could give Russia money at all due to political issues.

        We're not exactly blameless in this.
    • Re:Space Race (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BengalsUF (145009)
      Wouldn't it be nice if we could all work together instead of wasting billions on competing?

      No, it would not. Competition breeds innovation. Non-competition breeds bureaucracy.
  • ... would be a better place to launch all space missions from. It's far easier and cheaper to set off (because of less gravity and no atmosphere). The only problem is that the moon itself is actually in space, although i read about a giant elevator which might be built up into space (if it's possible) which would make getting there a lot easier... also it'd be a bitchin' place to stay the night.
    • It's far easier and cheaper to set off (because of less gravity and no atmosphere).

      That would be a plus, if it weren't for the little matter of fuel. Since there's no practical way to obtain rocket fuel from the moon itself, we'd have to carry it all up there on other spacecraft--completely eliminating any advantages.
      • Not necessarily.

        If you build the spacecraft on the moon and only send up fuel, you may come out ahead.

        If you build a mass driver on the moon for launch, you come out ahead.

        If you were to use nuclear propulsion, the amount of fuel required might be sufficently small to outweigh the disadvantages. Remember, you can use a nuclear powered craft to escape the gravity well, it would just cause cancer in a lot of folks if you ever tried it on Earth.

        But... ehrm... yeah, it's probably still better to assemble and
      • Since there's no practical way to obtain rocket fuel from the moon itself
        What makes you think that? The lunar crust contains plenty of aluminum and oxygen, which can be used as rocket fuel. You just set up solar panels to generate electricity to run a refining operation. What could be simpler? :-)
  • by NXIL (860839) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:38PM (#14998681)
    Yes, the atmosphere is much less harsh--in fact, in simulations, no one who has taken off their helmet and sampled the moon's simulated atmosphere has ever complained. Ever.

    I am certainly glad it is less harsh than the atmosphere of Mars, since I still have that image of Shwarzenegger's eyeballs popping out of his head in "Total Recall" when he is exposed to the pre-terraformed atmosphere.

    Perhaps hybrid Man-Beasts will be able to farm water on the Moon. I am looking forward to them filling some craters with farmed water, so I can go sailing there. The trade winds are always nice around the Sea of Stoopidity.
       
  • Less harsh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MarkusQ (450076) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:44PM (#14998701) Journal

    Near vacuum is "less harsh" than thin C02? How so? And even though water does exist on the moon, its absence would be a minus, not a plus. The "weather" on the moon may be marginally less objectionable (it depends on your tastes, I suppose) but you're not going to be out in the weather much on either of them. And as for the distance, the real question is the depth of the gravity well, on which standard I'll grant that the moon is somewhat nicer.

    Even so, an Earth-crossing asteroid would probably be a better choice, or something in one of the L-points (from which you could use the superhighway for cargo that wasn't marked "Rush").

    -- MarkusQ

    • Near vacuum is "less harsh" than thin C02?

      Wind, perhaps? Dust storms on Mars would be a nasty event for a colony, especially if it interferes with communications and solar power. Some of them last months, too.
  • by leftie (667677) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:48PM (#14998722)
    "...However, Russell Kerschmann never forgot. He is a pathologist at NASA Ames studying the effects of mineral dust on human health. Both the Moon and Mars are extremely dusty worlds, and inhaling their dust could be bad for astronauts, says Kerschmann.

    "The real problem is the lungs," he ex-plains. "In some ways, lunar dust resembles the silica dust on Earth that causes silicosis, a serious disease." Formerly known as "stone-grinder's disease," silicosis first came to idespread public attention during the Great Depression when hundreds of miners drilling the Hawk's Nest Tunnel through Gauley Mountain in West Virginia died within five years of breathing the fine quartz dust kicked into the air by dry drilling--even though they had been ex-posed for only a few months. "It was one of the biggest occupational health disasters in U.S. history," Kerschmann says...."

    "...Quartz, the main cause of silicosis, is not chemically poisonous. "You could eat it and not get sick," he continues. "But when quartz is freshly ground into dust particles smaller than 10 m (for comparison, a human hair is 50+ m wide) and breathed into the lungs, they can embed themselves deeply into the tiny alveolar sacs and ducts where oxygen and carbon dioxide gases are exchanged." There, the lungs cannot clear out the dust via mucus or coughing. Moreover, the immune system's white blood cells commit suicide when they try to engulf the sharp-edged particles to carry them away in the blood-stream. In the acute form of silicosis, the lungs can fill with proteins from the blood. He adds that it is as if the victim slowly suffocates from a pneumonia-like condition.

    Lunar dust, which like quartz is a compound of silicon, is (to our current knowledge) also not poisonous. But like the quartz dust in the Hawk's Nest Tunnel, it is extremely fine and abrasive, almost like powdered glass. Astronauts on several Apollo missions found that it clung to everything and was almost impossible to remove. Once it was tracked inside the lunar module, some of the dust easily became airborne, irritating lungs and eyes...."

    http://www.space.com/adastra/adastra_moondust_0602 23.html [space.com]
  • Less harsh ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aepervius (535155) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:49PM (#14998728)
    Mars ~ 1/100 of earth atmosphere at sea level and mainly CO2 [hypertextbook.com]
    Moon pressure (none or nearly none) [hawaii.edu]

    Less harsh is a kind of misnomer. You would probably have the same kind of problem between a wall separating 1 atm air and 1/100 atm CO2, as with a wall separating 1 atm air and 0, nada...
  • Moon (Score:3, Funny)

    by CGP314 (672613) <CGP@ColinGregor[ ... t ['yPa' in gap]> on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:51PM (#14998738) Homepage
    some feel the challenges presented on the moon will be less than Mars.

    They feel [wikipedia.org] do they? I'm glad we have people willing to know with their hearts rather than think with their heads.

    -CGP [colingregorypalmer.net]
  • hell yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by kiyuki (954365) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @02:53PM (#14998753)
    Finally a place far enough to go when my ex comes to town.
  • The US is planning to build a permanent lunar base which will support future visits to Mars.

    Nothing is "permanent" that doesn't pay for itself. I'm sure everyone thought in 1969 that we were permanently on the moon, but it didn't quite work out that way, did it?

    It's like Magellan. You send them off, and maybe they come back, maybe they don't,

    Magellan et al were looking for PROFIT. They weren't risking their lives for the hell of it.

    • by x2A (858210)
      "They weren't risking their lives for the hell of it"

      I doubt any astronaut would word it like that tho... damn those people and their sense of adventure, if only they could be boring too
  • Hmmm, I had always wondered why they decided to build a space station in orbit instead of building the station on the moon. I thought there was some reason for this. Does anyone know why we should have 2 stations up there?
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:15PM (#14998866)
    I guess I understand the pull of putting people on places that seem hard to get to, but we should realize that all this brings us is the gratification of human vanity. Very little else gets done.

    Meanwhile, we're becoming dramatically better at robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and long-distance communication. What we can do in 2020 that we couldn't do in 1968 is to send good, smart and relatively cheap robots to the moon, and actually have them build something useful.

    If we don't have to worry about human safety and frailty, we can get big projects done for relatively little money. I'm talking about satellite-steered bulldozers, a nice big nuclear powerplant, and a real industrial-scale mining operation. We don't need humans to be there, the moon is close enough for fly-by-wire with reasonable ping times. Sure, once our robots build a reasonably shielded and equipped hotel, we can launch people who can say "been there". But let's first figure out what our goals are and then make sure we're acting to fulfill our goals! I'm almost sure that we're better served by some serious robots than by astronauts on the Moon.

    • "But let's first figure out what our goals are"

      The goal, in this case, is human life on mars. The moon is just a stepping stone, a warm up. During the process, we will discover, gain experience, and invent. We will learn more than what is only relevant on the moon. Sometimes you gotta take the plunge. To get life up there, we need to send life up there.

  • buerocrats don't build, engineers do

    NASA is a bureaucracy, not a construction company

    the only thing NASA can build is even more bureaucracy

    if you want a moon base, space station, etc ... tender a contract
  • NASA announced that lodgers would ride to the moon on unicorns wearing specially modified space suits. They would be propelled using miniature dilithium reactors that are cooled by good vibes and pixie dust. Once lodgers arrive they will be greeted by Freddie Prinze Jr in the lobby who will dance the jitterbug whilst parking the unicorn in the specially designed space igloos made from carbon nanotubes so strong that even the harshest of meteor showers would not chip these specially designed unicorn stables.
  • by bytor4232 (304582) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:21PM (#14998900) Homepage Journal
    Narrator: No one really knows when, where, or how man landed on the moon...
    Fry: I do!
    Narrator: ...but our Fungineers imagine it went something like this.
    [Animatronic whalers emerge from a lunar lander]
    Animatronic whalers: [singing] We're whalers on the moon.
    Animatronic gophers: We carry a harpoon.
    Animatronic gophers, Animatronic whalers: But there are no whales, so we tell tall tales and sing a whaling tune.
    Fry: That's not how it happened.
    Leela: I don't see you with a Fungineering degree.
  • I'll believe this when I see it. More and more I think that under this administration NASA is a PR flack that cancels anything practical, but spins dazzling visions of the future (as long as there isn't any budget requirement).

    They haven't earned much trust recently. And as fiction writers, they need to work on plotting, pacing, and character development.
    • I'll believe this when I see it. More and more I think that under this administration NASA is a PR flack that cancels anything practical, but spins dazzling visions of the future (as long as there isn't any budget requirement).

      You must be young. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. NASA has done the groundwork for at least seven or eight systems since it became clear the shuttle would never live up to its billing in the early 1980s. They never happen because the shuttle employs 20,000

  • by ZoneGray (168419) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:29PM (#14998940) Homepage
    Big deal. The Grateful Dead played From The Mars Hotel more than 30 years ago.
  • by cojsl (694820)
    Stolen towels and soap from the lunar hotel would be the pinnacle of my collection!
  • "It is symbolic of our struggle against the Romans!"
    "Symbolic of his struggle against reality, more like..."
  • "which will support future visits to Mars"

    Why in the name of God do we go to the Moon first if what we really want is to go to Mars ?

    Robert Zubrin have written an excellent book on the subject, more info here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Case_for_Mars [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Zubrin [wikipedia.org]
    • The moon is a siren call diverting our ships from mars, as much as a huge space station is. Read Zubrin's book, it explains those things very well! The moon is a nice goal in itself, but serves zero purpose in going to mars!
  • The idea of planning on setting up a base on the moon, or mars, doesn't seem to me to be a good idea, given that we can't even manage a station in low earth orbit. If there were flights to serve and support the ISS, then maybe a station further out is possible.

    A moon base is the right next step, but the footing on our current step isn't that good.
  • Finally ! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kohath (38547) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @06:11PM (#14999509)
    Two words:

    space prostitute
  • burmashave (Score:3, Funny)

    by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @09:56PM (#15000164)
    I hear they are buying up lunar roadside realty already
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:13AM (#15000552) Homepage
    Oh I think I'd love to visit there some time!! Low- and zero-gravity sex has been on my list of things to do for quite some time. Could it be possible in the next 10 years? I hope so!! Guess I better start saving now.
  • Moonquakes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by floki (48060) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:52AM (#15000848)

    They also have to take into account possible moonquakes [nasa.gov]. They seem to be quite common and are powerful enough to move furniture.

  • by KlausBreuer (105581) on Monday March 27, 2006 @04:17AM (#15001216) Homepage
    You can't tell me that NASA is planning something major such as this in all seriousness.

    Sure, they're talking. Talk is cheap. They're drawing pretty pictures, writing nice things... but I'd bet a rather large sum of money that they'll not build anything at all on the moon for the next twenty years.

    They will get several more budget cuts and generally become even more bureaucratic and immobile. There will be less and less useful things happening, and (except for all the top-secret military stuff) will be able to do less and less.

    Pity about the SPACEX problem, but I'd give them much higher chances of actually getting anywhere.

    Besides, hey, nobody outside the USA expects the USA to carry on like they do now. They'll collapse economically in a major way withing a few years - we just hope that they'll do it without killing everybody else. The russians set a nice example, only ruining themselves in the process.

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

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